CHEER CHAMPION OF THE WEEK: DEBBIE THOMAS!
Debbie Thomas, CLC, is a retired La Leche League leader and WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor in Rankin County, Mississippi. Debbie has served as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for 27 years; she was nominated for her passion and consistency in advocating for breastfeeding.
“In these difficult times, her [Debbie’s] experience has been exemplary, and her consistency and desire to educate the community have made her productivity excellent. She continues to promote individual breastfeeding classes, she maintains relationships with hospitals to continue obtaining referrals, and she remains interested in attending virtual trainings to stay updated and provide the most accurate information to the community.” Andrea Borda, Mississippi WIC.
Debbie’s career in breastfeeding advocacy and support began when she had challenges nursing her second child, after having successfully breastfed her first for 18 months. “When I was nursing my second child, everything was much easier in the beginning until I got mastitis. I went to the doctor and he gave me some medication. But then I got a reinfection, and I returned to the doctor who then advised me to wean my baby! I didn’t, I knew it wasn’t the best thing to do, so I just continued to breastfeed,” Debbie shared. “The fact that a doctor gave me that bad advice made me learn more about breastfeeding and support programs and how important it is to have access to informational and emotional support.” Because she did not have that support when she need it most, Debbie wanted to be a resource for people to have their breastfeeding questions answered. Therefore, she joined the Jackson Metro Area La Leche League, studied and became a La Leche League leader with the goal of creating a space for women to have a breastfeeding support system.
When asked about the changes she has experienced since she began this work, Debbie replied – “We’ve gone through phases where people used to try to breastfeed if they stayed home, but didn’t if they thought it would be inconvenient when they return to work. I have seen a lot more desire to breastfeed in moms who have to go back to work. They are more determined and dedicated to breastfeeding and pumping at work now.”
“Many women are unaware of their workplace breastfeeding rights, so I try to inform them and many moms have reported that their employers are really accepting and supportive of their breastfeeding needs. I also let them know how to get the electric pumps through WIC, if they need it.” – Debbie Thomas, CLC
Debbie also shared how much she enjoyed and missed all the one on one time she used to have with new moms and babies. “Sometimes I still meet them in an outside location to deliver the pump, but it’s not the same since COVID,” she said. “I can’t wait to be able to hear their experiences and share advice in person once again.” Now that Debbie has been fully vaccinated, she is excited to be resuming office visits, with all the necessary precautions in place.
Congratulations Debbie, thank you for your many years of helping mothers and babies to breastfeed successfully!